RCH150 Timeline: 1940

1941: Uncle Bobs Club founded

The history of the UNCLE BOBS CLUB dates back to December 1941, when a raffle book was passed around the bar of the Riversdale Hotel in Hawthorn. The raffle proceeds were to benefit the Orthopaedic Section of the Royal Children’s Hospital at Mt. Eliza.

Four gentlemen in the bar that evening were so moved they decided to form a fundraising organisation for the Hospital.

The founders of the Club, Alf Clark, Ray Fisher, Jock McAdam and Clarrie Williams, held a meeting at the Hotel on the 17th of December, 1941, with 10 gentlemen in attendance. The meeting decided that the group be known as the “UNCLE BOB’S ORTHOPAEDIC FUND”, the term UNCLE BOBS coming from the fact that the subscription was to be a shilling (a bob) per week.

By the end of 1943, the Club’s membership had grown to 379 members and the reports show the Club was receiving tremendous support from the Melbourne Fire Brigade which has continued to this day. During the first year of the Club’s inception they raised a total of 1356 pounds, which was a tremendous effort considering the country was at war.

The Club’s first association with the Good Friday Appeal was in 1948. The appeal began in 1933 when the Sporting Globe and 3DB joined forces. The Uncle Bobs raised 1,200 pounds in their first year and the publicity for the Club was tremendous. The Good Friday Appeal holds a special place in the heart of every Uncle Bob.

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1942: First all-day radio appeal on Good Friday

In 1942, journalist and Carnival organiser Jim Blake suggested to the Herald and Weekly Time Managing Director that the Appeal joins forces with HWT radio station, 3DB. This partnership enabled the first all day broadcast held on Good Friday, for the Children’s Hospital.

36 volunteer took to the phones and received more than 20,000 calls, raising 8310 pounds ($16,620) for the hospital. It had gone on to establish itself as the hospital’s most important fundraising venture.

1944: First female Medical Superintendent appointed

Dr Elizabeth Turner was a respected paediatrician who worked at the hospital from 1942 until 1980. She was appointed the first female Medical Superintendant in 1944 and held the position until 1946.

She has been recognised as the first doctor in Australia to administer penicillin.

The hospital presents the Elizabeth Turner medal to acknowledge excellence in clinical care provided by a member of the senior medical/dental staff of the RCH over an extended period of time. This medal is awarded primarily on the basis of the individual’s contribution to the clinical care of their patients and is in essence, our highest form of peer recognition for exceptional clinical care.

Dr Elizabeth Turner, date unknown
The Children’s Hospital; Carlton, Victoria
Gelatin silver photograph

1948: Royal Park designated for new Children’s Hospital

10 acres in Royal Park is designated by the government as the site for the new Children’s Hospital. Construction did not begin however until years later due to lack of Government support with funds

Site of the New Hospital, Royal Park, Circa 1951 – 1957
The Royal Children’s Hospital; Parkville, Victoria
Gelatin silver photograph

1948: World first use of chemotherapy on leukemia patients

Chemotherapy used for the first time on leukemia patients, in the world’s first controlled trial of the drug by Dr John Colebatch.

Dr John Colebatch, 1968
The Royal Children’s Hospital; Parkville, Victoria
Gelatin silver photograph

1949: Dr. Vernon Collins is appointed as first medical director

In 1949, Vernon Collins was appointed first medical director at the RCH. He believed the hospital’s medical administration needed restructuring if modern advances in knowledge, training methods and clinical research were to be successfully implemented. As medical director, he was now responsible for all medical and ancillary services, and able to control and initiate policy.

The three objects of the (Royal) Children’s Hospital, as Collins saw them, were patient-care, research and teaching. His prime achievement in the area of patient-care was to substitute a senior, salaried staff for the time-honoured system of honorary medical officers. Clinical assistants were replaced by senior specialists on a salaried, sessional basis. The large departments were administered by paid, full-time specialists with a salaried staff. The existing clinical research unit was able to expand. Closely integrated with the hospital, it comprised a small research ward with an independent nursing staff and adjacent laboratories. On the teaching side, Collins insisted that undergraduates receive instruction from salaried, senior doctors, both in the wards and the clinics.​


1950 ​​